German Traditions: The Christmas Tree

The origins of the Christmas tree

Is there anything more iconic than pulling out the Christmas tree when the year rolls into December and the festive season is beckoning! But have you ever wondered where the tradition came from and how it became such a universal tradition? 

The tradition of the Christmas tree finds its roots in Germany around 16th Century. 

The German Christmas tree, known as Tannenbaum or Weihnachtsbaum, was recorded to be used as a central décor of Christmas by the southern Germans. It is widely believed that Martin Luther (1483-1546), a 16th century German protestant, was the first to start the Christmas tree tradition. As the tale goes, Martin Luther was walking home one winter evening, finding inspiration for his sermon, when he was stuck with the brilliance of the stars twinkling amidst the evergreens. He was so moved by the scene he attempted to recreate it for his family by erecting an evergreen in his home and decorating it by wiring candles to its branches. However, the first appearance of a Tannenbaum was recorded in Germany many years after his death. 

In 18th century, the Christmas tree become popular throughout Germany. Traditionally decorated with roses, apples, wafers, tinsel (also a German invention) and sweetmeat. The evergreens themselves were used as a symbol of everlasting life. It was custom to visit neighbouring houses and comment on their tree by saying “Ein schooner baum!”, which means “a nice tree!”. By the 19th century, the Christmas tree had become imbedded in German culture.  

The Christmas tree becomes a world renowned Christmas icon!

‘But how did the Christmas tree become a universal symbol of Christmas?’ I hear you ask. It was in 1845 when Queen Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert, were illustrated standing with their children around a Christmas Tree in a London Newspaper. It was from there the craze for Christmas trees become widespread across Britain and its expanding empire.

Christmas trees and Christmas tradition

The decorating of the Christmas trees and the giving of gifts to loved ones is at the centre of our Christmas practices. Today the expression of the Christmas tree tradition comes in many forms, from large artificial trees to small decorative pieces. Our personal favourite is the beautifully crafted wooden Christmas trees and decorations, made in the Black Forest in Germany.


View our German Wooden Christmas Tree collection here!

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German wooden christmas tree collection imported to Australia